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Pre-Black Belt
Pre-Black Belt

Joined: 10 Jan 2002
Posts: 891

PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2002 8:22 am    Post subject: What's your story? Reply with quote

The following article was written for MA-Wired by Kristie Leider.

I never intended to become a teacher of any sort. Speaking publicly for any reason was a surefire way to make me want to melt into my shoes and die on the spot. I've never even been good at general conversation. I'm more of a listener, not a talker. So when I started taking classes in TSD, it was not with the thought that someday I would get a black belt and then begin teaching it to other people. My only expectations were that I would get fit, learn something new and fun, and with any luck I'd have a fair idea how to defend myself if the issue ever presented itself.
If you've ever experienced chronic shyness, you can imagine how I felt the day my own instructor casually said "I need you to teach this class today, I have another student who needs to talk to me." It wasn't a question, even. He just told me I was teaching, and that was that. It took about 2 seconds for my legs to turn to rubber and for my hands to start tingling in what looked to be a first class panic attack. I wanted to blurt out "Oh hell no!" but someone had super glued my lips shut and I'm pretty sure I had begun to swallow my tongue.

With all these people staring at me, waiting to begin, I did the only thing that came to mind: I imitated as best I could the warm up routine usually used. During jumping jacks and stretching my mind was filled with the single mantra of "Why me?" Looking back I know that days warm up was much longer than usual, just because I was stalling and hoping the floor would open up and swallow me whole. At some point the warm up ended and the class actually began, but it's honestly a blur to me now. I don't remember what I taught, if I really taught at all. I'm sure what I did was parrot the last class I had attended.

Since that day I have taught many classes, and am more comfortable in the role of teacher that I ever could have imagined. It's true, you do learn much more when you have to figure out how to teach something than you do just imitating it. Having to present information in an understandable format, without injuring other people, has made everything that much more clear to me; teaching has honed my skills better than having stayed in the safe, anonymous role of "just a student."

I've learned more than just the martial art, though. In teaching I've learned a whole lot about other people too. The things that worked best for me to learn aren't necessarily the best for other people to learn. Some people are visual; you show them and it clicks with them. Some people are verbal; you explain technique, what it should feel like and what it should look like, and they get it. Others need individualized attention, even in the middle of a crowded class. Pushups as discipline work with most students, others it's just humiliating and degrading and might chase them away from the school. Every time I stand in front of a class--even if it's the same students I've had before--it's a brand new class with differing needs.

Still, for whatever good these students might get from me, what I get in return is, to me, much more valuable. It goes beyond the feeling of satisfaction you get when someone who has been struggling suddenly gets it. It's deeper than knowing that I'm part of the chain that will keep the art alive. Teaching has let me know in no uncertain terms that I don't have to be the wallflower I always thought I was. I can be assertive and not be mean about it; I can voice my opinion and be respected for it, not made fun of. It has stripped away the boundaries of what I thought was safe and shown me that I'm more than I ever thought I was. I am still more of a listener than a talker; I always will be, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. Teaching has given me myself. What more could I ask for?

So what's your story? How did you get into teaching? Were you very enthusiastic, or more apprehensive, like the woman above?
1st dan Tae Kwon Do
Yellow Belt Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
16 Years Old
Girls kick butt!
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Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 31 Jul 2002
Posts: 1012
Location: North of the 49
Styles: Goju Ryu Karate-do and Okinawan Kobudo

PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2002 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got into teaching and assisting not by choice, it is required as part of our traing once you reach a certain level. I kinda like it, and was really looking forward to doing it I found I learned alot about my self from my students
Goju Ryu Karate-do and Okinawan Kobudo, 17 Years Old 1st kyu Brown Belt in in Goju Ryu Karate-do, & Shodan in Okinawan Kobudo
Given enough time, any man may master the physical. With enough knowledge, any man may become wise. It is the true warrior who can master both....and surpass the result.

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Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 01 Aug 2002
Posts: 225

PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2002 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well since my first class i always wanted to be up front teaching. I actually started teaching about a year ago in Nov. Since then i try to make everyclassi can or my dad can get me to that doesnt mess with family things and what not. BUT when i first taught i was very very very nervous. in the end like all things i worked on it and am better but still not the greatest.
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Joined: 28 Oct 2001
Posts: 6397
Location: Ohio
Styles: Shotokan, Shorin Ryu, Shi-to Ryu

PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2002 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From early on we are expected to be able to help a student coming along behind us in the ranks with a new form they are learning. And very often a different student is chosen each class to lead warmups.
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Red Belt
Red Belt

Joined: 01 Jul 2002
Posts: 779
Location: USA
Styles: Goshin Jutsu Karate, Shotokan

PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2002 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well in my school you start teaching at Green belt. That way you learn to deal with people early on. Usually a lower rank of lower ages wont teach though. Since most the time they dont pay any attention themselves. I am not shy but Im not all to outgoing either. Teaching for me has never been a problem if it is something that I like doing. I am comfortable teaching something I dont know all to well (being uncomfortable with the subject can be very aggrivating when teaching). In my school also the head instructor usually makes himself in a spot were if you need help then you can ask. Any rank of Brown belt in my school will asist you if you ask and are having trouble teaching something. I get asked a lot of questions and I answer them. So the way our school runs helps the way you teach I guess.
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Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 02 Aug 2001
Posts: 3282

PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2002 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No one under 2nd dan black belt instructs at our school.... but advanced belts do help out the lower belts in drills and forms during class.

Currently I am not teaching TKD classes. I did on several ocassions "fill in" when our master instr. was in a bind or on vacation. The very first time he did give me a 2 day notice. As brown belts we take turns stretching / warming up class ... so I was accustomed to that! .... but teaching?? This is way before I started teach our cardio kickbox program.

Okay I have to line everyone up ... lead the opening student creed .... conduct the floor techinques for all belts bowing out the lower belts as I progress to more advanced techniques. Lead all the belts in their forms and then pair everyone up for sparring. Forgetting how to count Korean was my biggest worry!

I felt uncomfortable teaching only because I was a fairly recent 1st dan black belt and mainly felt unworthy to teach (especially to 2nd and 3rd dan black belts) .... maybe I felt as though I wasn't as good .... or maybe just getting accustomed to my own level of skill as a black belt, whatever, ... anyway
... I am weeks away from 2nd dan and much more self confident in my own skills now.

Now as far as teaching cardio kickboxing ... try strapping on a microphone and constantly talking to your students as you workout aerobically. Talking while kicking and punching is extremely difficult. ,... (never mind trying to keep your students at the same tempo!

Developing a class curriculum is also time consuming. When I taught those few class in TKD (as I do my kickbox classes) I write down exactly what I was going to cover in that 1 hr. (drills and combos, conditioning & strength exercises) and would look it over before class time. I make a mental note of what I wrote (never work from paper!) so as not to get a mental block. Nothing is worse than all of a sudden forgetting what to do next and having everyone standing there in a fighting stance staring at you (or in kickbox class ----thy're doing jump front kicks to the back until they're red in the face)....

It is a very rewarding position to teach martial arts providing that you are sufficiently qualified and personally ready to teach.
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Joined: 22 Feb 2002
Posts: 3678
Location: Iowa
Styles: Tae Kwon Do

PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2002 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I first started officially teaching a year ago in March. However, when I first started training, I started with my brother and father. I picked up things pretty quickly, but my dad had some problems here and there. I would teach him nearly every day in our kitchen, and I found lots of different ways of explaining things. I was kind of impatient at the time, though, so that wasn't nice. But technically, I've been teaching almost as long as I've been...learning!
When I was promoted to teaching in my dojo, I was a blue belt, and I got promoted to the lowest level of teaching that a teenager can get. Unfortunately, at the time there were some dojo politics and many of the other team members believed that I shouldn't have been promoted. This went on from March until about August of the same year. They made life pretty difficult for me for a long time. People that I thought were my friends, turned out not to be. Strangely, I don't think I ever considered quitting...I loved teaching too much, and I still do. Those people are now gone, and I have since received two teaching promotions, putting me at Assistant Instructor. I have a class pretty much all to msyelf. Most of the students in that class have been with me since White belt, so whenever they get some sort of promotion, I feel immensely proud. Not that "I" did it...they all have their own talents, and the other team members help me get through the night. Heck, without them, I don't know where I'd be. But the simple fact that I didn't screw them up, that under my supervision they have managed to become "elite" students, and that I have once and for all SPITED those who tried to bring me down....all of this is very satisfying
I accepted the challenge to teach because I love it, and I've kept on teaching because I haven't screwed anyone up yet
1st dan & Asst. Instructor TKD 2000-2003

No matter the tune...if you can rock it, rock it hard.
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Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 29 Mar 2002
Posts: 3116
Location: Gilbert WV, USA
Styles: Shotokan Karate (FSKA)

PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2002 12:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I made my First Dan in the May of 96. I went to College that fall and joined a new club. There was only one other black belt in the club and she like my had her rank in another style. By that winter we were co-instructors. However I did not teach really. I worked with new kids but I had done that for the last year or so anyhow.

The summer after my FR. year in college some women at a local school asked me to give a SD course. I spoke to both my Sensei's at the time and they said ok. They felt I was good enough to teach.

After the course several of the teachers wanted me to teach their kids or whatever. I again spoke to my sensei's and they said sure. So I begin teach by mistake not plan.

Oct. of 1997 I tested and made my second Dan in Shotokan since then I have tested my own students. However I did not teach to the public untill the winter of 1999. When my Shotokan Sensei closed down and moved. Several of his studenst came to me asking if I would reopen the dojo. I did only on Saturdays. I was still in College and I came home on weekends to teach. I graduated in the spring of 2000. So I taught a lot then.

However once I became the Ast. Football Coach at my HS I went back to only teaching private classes. At least for now. LOL.

Thats my story and Im sticking to it.
(General George S. Patton Jr.) "It's the unconquerable soul of man, and not the nature of the weapon he uses, that ensures victory."
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